THE UNIVERSITY of Limerick has backed off from its plans to make students living on campus book their accommodation for a whole academic year.
The original ‘no single semester’ rule announced a week ago has now been removed. It would have meant students paying around €3,000 for accommodation they would not be occupying while on Erasmus or placement away from the university.
But students booking for just one semester – September to Christmas of this year – will have to agree to sharing a twin room for the time they are there.
New rules also apply to second and third-year students, who will also have to share a twin room in one of the on-campus villages. Only first year, third year and foreign students will be allowed to apply for a single occupancy room.
Maeve Smyth, a UL alumni whose daughter is going into second year, feels the twin occupancy for certain years is deeply unfair.
“In truth, second and third-year results are what matter. First year results are scrapped.
“These twin rooms are tiny. A room which had one bed in it now has to cater for two and one desk, which was already up against the foot of the bed, has to accommodate two people. That’s going to make study very difficult at an important time for the students. There was no discussion about this with anyone, including the students union,” she told the Limerick Post.
The college has come in for criticism on every front for the move to double-up rooms.
Student Life, the UL students union, says that students are being asked to pay thousands of euro for rooms that are “smaller than a prison cell.’
The union is demanding that the university accept no further increases in the student population until proper accommodation is in place.
But the university says the move is not about making money but rather about responding to the demand for on-campus rooms.
A statement to the Limerick Post pointed out that “a shared (twin room) option for on-campus accommodation is being introduced to meet unprecedented demand in the shortest possible timeframe during a national housing crisis.
“Wider development plans are currently under consideration for new-build on-campus accommodation, but this will take some time to bring to fruition. The twin room option deals with the supply deficit while also providing an affordable option to many students.
“Last year, there was almost 7,200 applications from students for the 2,850 available beds in the six on-campus villages. The twin room option will add a further 630 beds.
“Twin room costs will range from €2,800 to €4,250 per person, which includes utilities and UL Sport membership,” the statement said.